Software

How to juggle multiple calendars using Macs and iOS devices

Modern life requires balancing a multitude of appointments, meetings, and events for work and home. Here are several options for managing multiple calendars using Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

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The ever-increasing demands of work and family life are more easily managed using electronic calendars. Apple's macOS and iOS Calendars simplify sharing information between multiple people and across a variety of devices. Particularly enterprising users can also add Microsoft Outlook to the mix, thereby potentially separating shared personal and family calendars in macOS and iOS Calendars and servicing professional commitments via Microsoft Outlook, which can also be viewed, edited, and updated using Macs and iOS devices. Ultimately, the configuration that's best for you depends upon your specific needs and preferences.

I find that it's easier to manage personal and family schedules using macOS and iOS Calendar, and use Microsoft Outlook to manage professional commitments (I have two different Microsoft Office 365 accounts and multiple email addresses to which calendars are also associated). Both the macOS/iOS Calendars and Outlook are available and individually customizable from any device I use: Apple iPad, Apple MacBook Air, Dell desktop computer, Apple iPhone, and even an Apple Watch. And, because I've separated mail and calendaring between apps, I can further tweak the notifications each application generates on each device, depending upon the manner in which the device is typically used and my preferences for each one.

You, too, can do the same, thereby receiving notifications differently on different devices. For example, you could set your iPhone to notify you of work-related email messages, appointments, and meeting invitations, and ensure your Apple Watch displays work email notifications but not personal email notifications. Or, you could set your iPad to generate email and appointment notifications only for personal email messages and family calendar-related information. You get the idea.

SEE: iPad users get their own version of Google Calendar (CNET)

Adding and sharing Calendars is straightforward using Apple's Calendar application. On a Mac, open Calendar. Calendars associated with iCloud appear within the application's left navigation bar. If they don't, click the Calendars button to display them.

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Apple Calendar enables creating, subscribing, viewing, and customizing views for multiple calendars from multiple sources.

Local calendars specific to the machine appear within the left navigation bar, too, albeit within the Other section. To view the corresponding calendar, click its corresponding check box. Otherwise, clear the check box, and the corresponding calendar's information will no longer appear within the Calendar application's view. You can change a corresponding Calendar's color (which is a nifty feature when juggling multiple calendars across multiple devices) by right-clicking the respective calendar and selecting the color you wish to use from the resulting pop-up menu. You can also unsubscribe from subscribed calendars by clicking the corresponding Unsubscribe button.

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Apple Calendar's pop-up menu offers several configuration and customization options.

To add a new calendar on a Mac, click File from the menu bar and select New Calendar, or New Calendar Subscription if the calendar you wish to add is web-based. Enter the name of the calendar and voila—a new calendar becomes available for use. Note: macOS typically defaults to creating iCloud-based calendars. To share such a calendar, double-click the respective calendar and select Share, and then provide the necessary information, which includes recipient names/email addresses, or simply check the Public Calendar box to enable anyone to subscribe to a read-only version.

When choosing to add a new calendar subscription, Calendar prompts you to enter the calendar's URL. Enter the corresponding URL, and then click the Subscribe button.

Configuring Apple Calendar on iOS devices is typically equally straightforward. To choose which calendars to display, open Calendar and tap the Calendars option at the screen's bottom center. Tap each respective calendar to enable/disable the corresponding checkmark that indicates the calendar will be displayed on the iOS device. You may, for example, wish to display all your calendars on your Mac but only select calendars on an iPhone or iPad.

Adjust iOS Calendar permissions by tapping Edit, selecting the corresponding calendar, and choosing to View and Edit user permissions or add users (by tapping Add Person), depending upon the calendar type.

To add a calendar using an iOS device, open Calendar, tap the Calendars option at the screen's bottom center and tap Edit (in the top left corner), then tap Add Calendar. Specify a Calendar Name, select the corresponding calendar color, then tap Done.

For more information on using Apple Calendar, check out Apple's website, particularly the iCloud Calendar overview, step-by-step calendar-sharing instructions, and step-by-step calendar subscription instructions.

Configuring Outlook on a Mac is more complicated, especially when using multi-factor authentication. With Outlook installed, open the Calendar view—typically the easiest way to do so is by clicking the Calendar icon located at the bottom of the left Sidebar, which can be viewed/disabled by clicking View from the menu bar. Specify the calendars you wish to view by clicking the corresponding checkbox for each installed calendar that appears within the Sidebar. Click Open Shared Calendar from the Outlook menu to add a shared calendar.

Using the iOS Outlook app, tap the Calendar icon found on the screen's bottom, then click the hamburger button on the top left of the screen. From there you can add Calendar Apps, adjust loaded calendars (such as those associated with an Office 365 or an Exchange account), and even add calendars for sports events and television listings.

For more information, including tips on sharing an Outlook calendar on a Mac and instructions for setting up iOS Outlook accounts, check out Microsoft's step-by-step guide.

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About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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